5 Underappreciated NBA Players Who Need More Minutes in 2012-13
The above photograph is a joke, a gag, an object lesson in how coaches know what they're doing sometimes.
For years, I wished former Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson would play Anthony Randolph more. Clearly, the old coach was being too hard on the youngster. Clearly, he was a star in the making who only required more opportunity.
Well, some years later, it's quite clear that Nelson knew what he was doing in this specific instance. Randolph never materialized into a rotation player, let alone a star. I use this picture to remind myself that coaches aren't always buffoons, and that sometimes, a player sits for a reason.
I'm citing the following players as people we perhaps should be seeing more of, all the while acknowledging that head coaches have the final word.
5. JaVale McGee
Hey, look who's no longer an embarrassment!
JaVale McGee has flourished under George Karl's tutelage, claiming a sterling 23.22 PER while playing better defense. It's amazing what time away from Washington can do.
It is difficult to question Karl's methods, but McGee has perhaps earned himself more run on this size-deficient roster. At 18.9 minutes, the lengthy shot-blocker should, and probably will, see more action in the coming weeks.
The on-court/off-court numbers (via 82Games.com) speak well of McGee's presence, as does my subjective take of Denver's games. I love Kenneth Faried as much as the next fan, but he shouldn't be playing center so often.
4. Jeff Teague
This was supposed to be Jeff Teague's breakout season, and in some ways, it's been just that. The young point guard is shooting .452 from three-point range and averaging 9.3 assists per 40 minutes.
The problem? Jeff Teague is also only playing 30.4 minutes per game, three fewer than he averaged last season. Some of this can be attributed to Lou Williams' introduction into the offense, but Williams is more of a gunner than a distributor, and Atlanta could be playing both of them for stretches.
Teague has played too well to sit so often. Larry Drew should let his point guard grow with real starter minutes.
3. Kevin Martin
Since getting traded for James Harden, Kevin Martin has been fantastic. The scrawny scorer is singing nets at .488 from long range with that corkscrew shot of his. Martin is also getting to the rim at an impressive clip, averaging 4.4 free-throw attempts despite playing less than 30 minutes.
When Harden played for the Thunder, I often wondered why he didn't get more run. Thabo Sefolosha is a good defender, but he is extremely limited offensively.
Martin would seem a logical off-guard pairing with Russell Westbrook, and there seems to be no logical reason to cap K-Mart's minutes below starter level.
I'll never quite understand the ways of Thunder coach Scott Brooks. Perhaps he has his reasons for often eschewing his best offensive lineups, but those reasons escape me.
2. Serge Ibaka
This is also a plea to play Kendrick Perkins less. For a team doing so well, Oklahoma City could be doing much better. Perkins is giving them almost no production at the center position, and Serge Ibaka can capably play that role.
Even better, Ibaka has demonstrated improvement this season. He's hitting .595 percent of his shots from the field and a scalding .881 from the line. Perhaps he'll fall off somewhat from these averages, but I see no reason for a mere 32 minutes of floor time.
Ibaka is 23 years old and incredibly athletic. So long as he's producing near his 20.68 PER clip, he should be playing as much as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
1. Andre Drummond
This has become almost a cause to celebrate in Detroit, where the sentiment is that the Pistons aren't going anywhere. Considering this sad projection, why not play the rookie more?
Andre Drummond is far from a perfect player. He is an awful free-throw shooter, and he fouls frequently. But he is, quite simply, exactly what this team desperately needs. If the Pistons are to build around the slow-footed, defensively inept Greg Monroe, they must compensate in some fashion.
Enter Drummond, who's putting up a 19.85 PER while blocking shots that nobody else can. At 280 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan, he boasts the ability to be an elite defensive player.
It'll be hard to hone his craft on only 16.9 minutes per outing, though.